Often when businesses come to us about marketing automation, they’ve reached a decision point. They almost always fall into one of two categories.
In the first category stands the owner who has had enormous growth. They have more potential leads than they have time to nurture, and they’re tired of seeing those dollars slip through their fingers. That’s a good problem to have and an easy one to fix. In the second, we see someone who invested a lot in marketing, but they’re not seeing results. They’re tired of wasting money and time. They’re looking for a better solution.
Email marketing is a valuable way to engage your audience and grow relationships. You can send mass blasts and track open rates, but consistent results require consistent effort. Marketing automation allows you to be much more strategic. We’ll show you how to trade email marketing for marketing automation in 7 simple steps.
1 – Understand Marketing Automation Benefits
It takes time and effort to transition. You’ll have to invest money, and you’ll need a commitment from everyone on your team. Before you roll out the to-do list, explore specific ways marketing automation will make life better for those involved. The end result is increased revenue, streamlined workloads, less repetition and more productivity for everyone. Let’s look at some of those benefits in more detail.
When it comes to making more money or saving time, it’s hard to say which is more valuable. Marketing automation lets you automate tasks you had to perform manually with email marketing. Most software allows you to manage multiple marketing campaigns from one dashboard. Break down data from your CRM system to identify different sub-groups and segments, and schedule a targeted campaign for each. Often you’re able to take one message and make tweaks to tailor to specific groups, schedule, and walk away.
You also save time when you repurpose existing content for your email marketing. For example, give blog content a second life by setting up rules that suggest it to customers at a certain point in their lifecycle. You also save time by avoiding wasted effort with marketing automation’s extensive reporting capabilities.
Marketing automation makes teams more efficient. Your team gets more leads, and they’re high-quality leads. Automate tasks like responding to form fills and materials requests so your staff has more time to do other things. Turn your small marketing team into what seems like an army so you pay less for outsourcing.
It’s great to know whether or not people open your email, but marketing automation software gives you much more information than that. It often provides tools that allow you to visualize the customer journey to refine marketing processes. Find where you’re reaching (or losing) them and make tweaks to increase revenue.
When you trade regular email marketing for marketing automation, you also get tools for boosting customer lifetime value. Make rules that trigger cross-sells and upgrades so you don’t miss a single opportunity.
Use marketing automation to score leads as they come in. Then team members get to the ones with the highest priority first and stop wasting time on unqualified leads. Plus, automation allows you to follow up on leads right away, no matter when they come in.
2 – Evaluate Whether Marketing Automation is Right for You
The benefits sound great, but is now the time for your business to make the switch? Does a company have to be a certain size or reach a certain traffic volume before marketing automation is worth the investment? Evaluate your situation by answering the following questions:
- Do you currently have a steady flow of leads?
- Can your sales team comfortably handle the current load?
- Is your email marketing strategy designed around the buyer’s journey?
- Can you currently track touch points across channels (social media, web content, PPC campaigns, etc) or are you limited to evaluating one at a time?
- Do you have a strategy that works now, you just want to be able to implement it on a bigger scale?
If the answer to those questions is yes, marketing automation will work for you and now is the time. Read on to get started.
If you’re not there yet, we have resources to help. Check out our article Email Subject Lines that Get Opened, Read and Responded To and our Email List Building Strategy Troubleshooting Guide.
3 – Document What’s Working Now
Trading simple email marketing for marketing automation doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. If you answered yes to the above questions, you have a system that’s working for you. Before you dive into something new, write down what you have.
If you’re the brains responsible, grab a notebook and a pen. If you work with a team, give each a chunk of notecards or post-its. Start with what’s working for your email marketing, but don’t restrict yourself to just that.
Where do you get data? Who collects it, how do you distribute it and who is responsible for deciding what happens next?
How are you reaching people? How do you measure success? What are the processes behind those processes? What leads to the crafting of a winning newsletter? What links, social media posts or blog articles direct the most traffic to your contact form?
When you experience success, how do you notify team members? What’s the process for assigning responsibility and deciding the appropriate follow up?
Businesses assume since it’s working, everyone knows what’s involved. However, you’re about to make changes, and you don’t want to lose even a small part of what you’ve gained. Document everything, even if it seems small or self-explanatory. This is also a good time to get rid of what isn’t working.
Make this a sprint with a time limit. Don’t let this part drag on, just do the best you can, then go on to the next step.
4 – Clean and Organize
You probably have email addresses on your list that always come back undeliverable. You also most likely have cases where the user hasn’t opened your email in months, maybe years.
Delete the bad email addresses. Then group the rest by their level of engagement. Sort them as Active, Inactive or Unsubscribed. You can further segment them by location, industry, what they purchased or didn’t purchase, referring source and so on.
5 – Refine
Next, separate processes into ones triggered by stages of the customer journey and those for which team members are responsible. If you have index cards or post-it notes, use those to sort.
On the customer journey side, place the content they see. That’s where you’ll put your weekly newsletter, contact forms, the messages on your landing pages and other content.
Processes team members handle go in the other column. Everything you wrote down about assigning responsibility, conducting the follow-up and gathering data falls under the administrative heading.
6 – Create
Drill down on your customer journey list. You’ll find the email you plan to send at each step is either content you send as a drip feed or something triggered by customer action. They might overlap. For example, a customer might take an action (complete a form) that triggers enrollment in a drip feed, but marketing automation involves creating rules so that happens automatically. Trigger events might be actions like the following:
- Signing up for a service
- Purchasing a product
- Abandoning a shopping cart
- Passing on a coupon to a friend
- Reaching a milestone (customer anniversary, birthday or number of loyalty points)
When you respond quickly to customers marketing might be automated, but it feels personal. Marketing automation also keeps drip feed emails from being one-size-fits-all.
A sure-fire way to lose engagement is blasting the same message to everyone on your list. Plan instead to adjust for interests, behaviors, location or favorite products.
Start at the point you first receive contact information and create content for each step from there. Then switch over to your administrative tasks and identify what becomes part of marketing automation and where teams step in. Allow for multiple opportunities to convert a prospect into a customer.
7 – Refine
Split test your emails like you would a landing page or social media ad. Then analyze what works and why. Top key performance indicators include the delivery rate, view rate, open rate, click through rate and conversions. You want to know how many emails arrived in your users’ inboxes, how many got past the subject line and most importantly, who took action because of what they read.
Once you get started, you should also see a low unsubscribe rate. If your marketing automation is having a positive impact, consumers will want to keep receiving what you send.
On the administrative side, evaluate how your team is using the software you provide. There’s more to email marketing than sending messages, but the number of emails sent through that software indicates whether or not they’re putting your investment to use. Also, check to see if they’re assigning quality behavioral triggers to the emails they create.
Digital Marketing Made Easy
At Spade Design, we do a lot more than just web design. Our result-driven strategies and campaigns expand business for our clients. We’ll help define and engage your audience so you can reach your goals. Let us help you make the switch from email marketing to marketing automation when you get in touch today.